The Academy Awards is Hollywood's opportunity for luminaries to shine in designer gowns and tuxedos.
But at this year's 92nd Annual Academy Awards, the ostentatious ceremony was not entirely without its glamour.
James Corden and Rebel Wilson—both of whom starred in what may have been 2019's biggest flop, Cats—humbly crept onto the stage in their feline finest to present the nominees for Best Visual Effects.
The pair announced:
"As cast members of the motion picture Cats, nobody more than us understands the importance … of good visual effects!"
While audiences howled over their self-deprecating humor, members from the Visual Effects Society were hissing.
The film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats was considered a huge box office disappointment.
Not even the all-star cast—including James Corden, Rebel Wilson, Idris Elba, Taylor Swift, and even Dame Judi Dench—failed to draw massive crowds into theaters. And those who did go panned it brutally.
With a 18% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, the Tom Hooper-directed film grossed $6 million domestically and eventually hit the $38 million worldwide mark from a production that cost $95 million to make.
The public considered it to be a laughing stock, with many expressing that the musical did not translate well to the screen.
So while Corden and Wilson acknowledged their part in the panned film with levity, the claws were out.
The visual effects organization fired back in response to the pair's Oscars stunt in a statement.
"The best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly."
Oswalt ruthlessly roasted the film, saying:
"The Star Wars franchise ended after 50 years, and after one screening, so did the Cats franchise."
"Isn't that amazing? Were you guys on strike when they made that one? What was going on there? That movie was a screensaver designed to not give me a boner."
Some said that the organization was too defensive.
After Cats was largely viewed as the butt of a joke, Universal began unceremoniously pulling the movie from award campaigns for visual effects—even as the studio had prepared to make digital improvements after its release.
Yves McCrae—who worked on the visual effects of Cats—said that the effects were not to blame for the film's shortcomings and that all the long hours spent working on it should not be discredited.
Still, the verdict was in.
Cats creeped people out.
The VES statement, in full, read:
"The Visual Effects Society is focused on recognizing, advancing and honoring visual effects as an art form—and ensuring that the men and women working in VFX are properly valued."
"Last night, in presenting the Academy Award for Outstanding Visual Effects, the producers chose to make visual effects the punchline, and suggested that bad VFX were to blame for the poor performance of the movie CATS. The best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly."
"On a night that is all about honoring the work of talented artists, it is immensely disappointing that The Academy made visual effects the butt of a joke. It demeaned the global community of expert VFX practitioners doing outstanding, challenging and visually stunning work to achieve the filmmakers' vision."
"Our artists, technicians and innovators deserve respect for their remarkable contributions to filmed entertainment, and should not be presented as the all-too-convenient scapegoat in service for a laugh."
In all deference to the many talented artists who worked on the film in a hit or miss industry, Cats was far from purr-fect.